The WonkLine: February 8, 2011

Welcome to The WonkLine, a daily 9:30 a.m. roundup of the latest public policy news. This is what we’re reading. Tell us what you found in the comments section below. You can also follow The Wonk Room on Twitter.



As a share of the economy, taxes this year will be the lowest since 1950, “and for the third straight year, American families and businesses will pay less in federal taxes than they did under former President George W. Bush.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that “President Barack Obama’s budget proposal is expected to give states a way to collect more payroll taxes from businesses, in an effort to replenish the unemployment-insurance program.”

This week, federal bank regulators “began their most forceful attempt yet to clamp down on bank bonuses since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, and warned firms they would seek to counter attempts to circumvent the reforms.”


University of Colorado researchers said yesterday that “there were potential weaknesses in methods the Los Angeles Times used last year to rate elementary school teachers.”

As part of the overhaul of No Child Left Behind, “a bipartisan group of senators and the Obama administration are looking at ways to produce better teachers and principals, and to get them to work in high-need areas.”

An education reform proposal in Idaho “includes removing tenure for teachers, cutting hundreds of teaching jobs to pay for new classroom technology and require high school students to take 6 online credits before they graduate.”


An attempt to deny the children of undocumented immigrants was rejected yesterday by a South Dakota legislative panel.

Arizona state lawmakers have tabled voting on their bill aimed at challenging the 14th Amendment’s citizenship clause until later this week, and some say it is expected to fail.

Pamela Anderson thinks that all immigrants can and should come to the U.S. legally like she did, saying, “[t]he American dream is seductive, but there is a legal way to do it and there would be more jobs here for people if it was honored.”

LGBT Equality

In Indiana, “the House Judiciary Committee approved” a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage “Monday on an 8-4 party-line vote. The full House could vote as early as Thursday.”

Yesterday, the Fairness Campaign “released [a] statistic that 83% of Kentuckians now support statewide protections for LGBT Americans, and that this is a twenty-point jump from 2004.”

“The White House on Friday announced the appointment of Nancy Wilson, the head of the Metropolitan Community Church, the nation’s largest denomination of LGBT churches, to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.”

Climate Change

“Australia’s climate change policies will lead greenhouse gas emissions to balloon out of control in the next few years, the federal government says in an annual report to the United Nations. Instead of the 5 to 25 per cent cut being offered by the government, the nation would pump out 24 per cent more carbon dioxide by 2020.”

The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at U-W Madison predicted that “Wisconsin’s average annual temperature is expected to rise by 6-to-7 degrees in the next 40 years. And that might affect the quality of nature – plus the way we fish and farm.”

Research shows that “[p]harmaceuticals, illicit drugs, shampoo, toothpaste, pesticides, chemical run-off from highways and many other pollutants” have infiltrated “the giant aquifer under Mexico’s ‘Riviera Maya.'”

National Security

“As Egypt’s revolt entered its 15th day on Tuesday, the government of President Hosni Mubarak sought to seize the initiative from protesters still crowding Tahrir Square, setting up panels to recommend and monitor constitutional change and pledging there would be no retribution for the revolt.”

“One of Russia’s most wanted men, Chechen warlord Doku Umarov, has said he ordered the deadly bomb attack last month on a Moscow airport.”

“The Obama administration is still trying to balance support for some of the basic aspirations for change in Egypt with its concern that the pro-democracy movement could be ‘hijacked’ … The result has been to feed a perception, on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere, that the United States… is putting stability ahead of democratic ideals.”

Health Care

The Obama administration has begun a “full-court press” in defense of the health-care reform law’s long-term insurance program as efforts to repeal it “gain steam” among congressional Republicans and centrist Democrats.

As the House prepares for hearings on abortion legislation today, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Richard Blumenthal (D-NY) vowed to block any new restrictions on the practice.

A coalition of progressive groups launched radio ads yesterday targeting four GOP Reps. for their votes to repeal the health care reform law.


Five years after the Supreme Court watered down the Clean Water Act, no one can figure out what the heck they did to the law.

Ken Cuccinelli appears to be plotting a new witchhunt — against Planned Parenthood.

An Arizona senator’s attempt to nullify the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution has hit a big roadblock — he doesn’t have enough votes to move forward.